Monday, June 13, 2011

Update On Bricks vs. Clicks 2011 Style

Last week I found myself in a discussion with another member of my fitness club after I finished my morning's mile swim. We had apparently spoken before, perhaps last summer, so he felt sufficiently uninhibited to inquire about my use of a heart rate monitor.

We had a lengthy conversation about training regimens, diet, the protein reduction to cut fat, and related topics.

He asked me several times which current model of Polar HRM I would recommend, and I reiterated what I last recall seeing as their lowest-level product with calorie burn estimation capabilities, noting that his local Sports Authority was sure to have them.

Being older than me, he astonished me by dismissively snorting,

'Oh, forget that. I'll just find it on Amazon and buy it there.'

Pretty interesting. He clearly already uses Amazon as his go-to general store, but doesn't believe he's paying much for the privilege.

On one hand, that's good for Amazon. On the other, though, the online retailing giant is one of those Schumpeterian forces that prospers by slitting the economic throat and gutting the profit model of existing 'bricks' retailers.

Growth has been and remains the key for Amazon. It took some time for the company to get its model right and profitable. Since then, it's latched onto some key growth categories- ebooks, DVD rentals, and, now cloud computing.

But a bit over ten years on from the first great internet binge, it's clear that online shopping has taken hold in a lasting manner. Thus, for many product categories, finally answering the 'clicks vs. bricks' argument decidedly in favor of the former.

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